4 March 2001
Fears mount over unconnected cases
by John Burns
TWO cases of foot-and-mouth disease which are unconnected with previous outbreaks have raised fears about how far the virus may spread.
The Ministry of Agriculture said that a case of foot-and-mouth on a farm near Winkleigh, Devon, had no obvious connection with previous cases.
An outbreak on a farm which adjoins open common land on Dartmoor, Devon, also has serious implications because it is not linked to previous cases.
Preparations are being made for the destruction of 800 sheep and 170 beef cattle on Roger and Marion Winsors 600-acre farm at Dunnabridge.
The couple reported an animal off colour on the morning of Saturday (3 March) but their vet could see no signs of foot-and-mouth disease.
But by the same afternoon, other cattle were drooling and slobbering classic signs of foot-and-mouth and the disease was confirmed on Sunday (4 March)
In a statement issued through the National Farmers Union, the Winsors said:
“Weve holed ourselves up here and havent even seen the postman for a week because he has been leaving things at the end of the drive as has the milkman.”
All livestock were kept on enclosed land but the farm adjoins open common land where thousands of sheep and cattle roam freely.
Until now, most cases of foot-and-mouth have been linked to livestock movements, although the disease is airborne and can be carried on people.
The National Farmers Union again begged the public to stay away from Dartmoor, even the National Park is closed to all visitors.
Local NFU director Anthony Gibson said: “We are looking at the nightmare prospect of a sporadic case in the middle of one of Britains biggest livestock areas.”
Mr Gibson said there was no way government officials could cope if the disease spread to all of Dartmoors livestock
If it did, the army would have to be called in, he added.
In a bid to control the disease, Mr Gibson said the media and tourists should keep away from Dartmoor until the national park re-opened.